Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Michele Diaz

Michele Diaz

Professor of Psychology, Linguistics, and Neuroscience
Director of Human Imaging, Social, Life, and Engineering Sciences Imaging Center (SLEIC)


Michele  Diaz


Research Interests: 
Language is a ubiquitous aspect of human life. Yet we are just beginning to understand the neural infrastructure that supports this complex social and cognitive function. Broadly, my research focuses on age-related differences in language. My lab has examined semantic and phonological aspects of language comprehension and production. Most recently we have been examining neural factors that contribute to age-related decline in language production. We investigate the relations between structural factors (i.e., white matter integrity), functional activations, and behavior.

Recent Publications (*indicates student collaborator):

Cosgrove, A.L.*, Beaty, R.E., Diaz, M.T., Kenett, Y.N. (In Press). Age differences in semantic network structure: acquiring knowledge shapes semantic memory. Psychology & Aging

Diaz, M.T., Zhang, H.*, Cosgrove, A.L.*, Gertel, V.H.*, Troutman, S.B.W.*, & Karimi, H.* (2022). Semantic Neighborhoods Facilitate Language Production Across the Lifespan. Neuropsychologia, 171, 1-11.

Diaz, M.T. & Hernandez, A. (2022). The multifaceted nature of language across adulthood. Brain and Language, 230, 1-3.

Troutman, S.B.W.*, Madden, D.J., & Diaz, M.T. (2022). Cerebral white matter mediation of age-related differences in picture naming across adulthood. Neurobiology of Language.

Kałamała, P., Walther, J., Zhang, H.*, Diaz, M.T., Senderecka, M., & Wodniecka, Z. (2022). Use of a second language enhances the neural efficiency of inhibitory control: an ERP study. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 25(1), 163-180.

Zhang, H.*, Diaz, M.T., Guo, T., & Kroll, J.F. (2021). Language immersion and language training: Two paths to enhanced language regulation and cognitive control. Brain & Language, 223, 1-12.

Karimi, H.* & Diaz, M.T. (2021). Age-related Differences in the Retrieval of Phonologically Similar Words during Sentence Processing: Evidence from ERPs. Brain & Language, 220, 1-17.

Cosgrove, A.L.*, Kenett, Y.N., Beaty, R.E., & Diaz, M.T. (2021). Quantifying flexibility in thought: The resiliency of semantic networks differs across the lifespan. Cognition, 211, 104631. NIHMSID: 1673877.

Diaz, M.T., Karimi, H.*, Troutman, S.B.W.*, Gertel, V.H.*, Cosgrove, A.L.*, & Zhang, H.* (2021). Neural sensitivity to phonological characteristics is stable across the lifespan. Neuroimage, 225, PMCID: PMC7812596.

Zhang, H.*, Gertel, V.H.*, Cosgrove, A.L.*, & Diaz, M.T. (2021). Age-related differences in resting-state and task-based network measures and cognition. Neurobiology of Aging. NIHMSID: 1654326.

Gertel, V.H.*, Karimi, H.*, Dennis, N.A., Neely, K.A., & Diaz, M.T. (2020). Lexical frequency affects functional activation and accuracy in word naming among older and younger adults. Psychology & Aging, 35(4), 536–552. NIHMSID: 1564015.

Karimi, H.* & Diaz, M.T. (2020). When phonological neighborhood density both facilitates and impedes: Age of acquisition and name agreement interact with phonological neighborhood during word production. Memory & Cognition, 48, 1061-1072. NIHMSID: NIHMS1591396.

Gertel, V.H.*, Zhang, H.*, & Diaz, M.T. (2020). Stronger right hemisphere functional connectivity supports executive aspects of language in older adults. Brain & Language, 206. NIHMSID: 1583813.

Troutman, S.B.W.* & Diaz, M.T. (2019). White matter disconnection is related to age-related phonological deficitsBrain Imaging & Behavior.

Zhang, H.*, Eppes, A.*, & Diaz, M.T. (2019). Task difficulty modulates age-related differences in the behavioral and neural bases of language production. Neuropsychologia, 124, 254-273. NIHMSID:1517807 DOI:

Diaz, M.T., Johnson, M.A.*, Burke, D.M., Truong, T., & Madden, D.M. (2018). Age-related differences in the influence of task-irrelevant information on the neural bases of phonological and semantic processes. Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience. NIHMSID: 1012404 DOI:

Rossi, E., Newman, S., Kroll, J.F., & Diaz, M.T. (2018). Neural signatures of inhibitory control in bilingual spoken production. Cortex.

Zhang, H.*, Eppes, A.*, Beatty-Martinez, A.*, Navarro-Torres, C.*, &  Diaz, M.T. (2018). Task difficulty modulates brain-behavior correlations in language production and cognitive control: Behavioral and fMRI evidence from a phonological Go – No-Go picture naming paradigm. Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience. NIHMSID: 976572

Diaz, M.T., & Eppes, A.* (2018). Factors influencing right hemisphere engagement during metaphor comprehension. Frontiers in Psychology

Gilmore, R.O., Diaz, M.T., Wyble, B.A., & Yarkoni, T. (2017). Progress toward openness, transparency, and reproducibility in cognitive neuroscience. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1396(1), 5–18. PMCID: PMC5545750, NIHMSID: NIHMS878076 DOI: 10.1111/nyas.13325

Rizio, A.A.*, Moyer, K.J.*, & Diaz, M. T. (2017). Neural evidence for phonologically-based language production deficits in older adults: An fMRI investigation of age-related differences in picture-word interference. Brain and Behavior, 15:7(4), 1-19. PMCID: PMC5390840 DOI: 10.1002/brb3.660

Zhuang, J.*, Johnson, M.A.*, Madden, D.J., Burke, D.M., & Diaz, M.T. (2016). Age-related differences in resolving semantic and phonological competition during receptive language tasks. Neuropsychologia, 93(A), 189-199NIHMSID: 828388, PMCID: in progress, doi:

Diaz, M.T., Rizio, A.A.*, & Zhuang, J.* (2016). The neural language systems that support healthy aging: Integrating function, structure, and behavior. Language & Linguistic Compass, 10(7), 314-334. NIHMSID: 805036, PMCID: PMC4955947, doi: 10.1111/lnc3.12199

Rizio, A.A.* & Diaz, M.T. (2016). Language, aging, and cognition: Predicting cognitive performance using age and white matter integrity. Neuroreport, 27(9), 689-93. NIHMSID: 77018, PMCID: PMC4955947, doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000000597.

Rossi, E. & Diaz, M.T. (2016). How aging and bilingualism influence language production: theoretical and neural models. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 6(1), 9-42.  NIHMSID: 805039, PMCID: in progress, doi: 10.1075/lab.14029.ros

Diaz, M.T., Johnson, M.A.*, Burke, D.M., & Madden, D. J. (2014). Age-related differences in the neural bases of phonological and semantic processes. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 26(12):1-14. DOI: 10.1162/jocn_a_00665 PMID: 24893737 NIHMSID: 605188 PMCID: PMC4216243

Johnson, M.A.*, Diaz, M.T., & Madden, D.J. (2014). Global versus tract-specific components of cerebral white matter integrity: Relation to adult age and perceptual-motor speed. Brain Structure & Function. NIHMSID: 620459, PMCID: PMC4277942

Diaz, M.T., Hogstrom, L.J.*, Zhuang, J.*, Voyvodic, J.T., Johnson, M.J.* & Camblin, C.C.*. (2014). The influence of written distractor words on brain activity during overt picture naming. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 8:167, 1-11. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00167, PMID: 24715859 PMCID: PMC3970014